In an interview with Jane Mayer for the New Yorker, CIA Director Leon Panetta responded to former Vice President Cheney’s recent speech to the American Enterprise Institute, saying, “It’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.” Earlier today, Cheney released a statement in response to Panetta. “I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted. The important thing is whether the Obama administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last eight years,” the statement read. Cheney’s reference to Panetta as his “old friend” is significant. Indeed, it reminds us that Panetta’s assessment of Cheney’s intentions was not from the mouth of a long-time political enemy, but rather from a former colleague and long-time friend. Cheney endorsed Panetta’s nomination to CIA in January, specifically noting their long relationship. “I am very fond of him. He is a very talented guy,” Cheney said:
FOX NEWS: Leon Panetta for CIA director — does that choice trouble you in any way, due to his lack of intelligence experience?
CHENEY: I know Leon. We first met back in the Nixon administration when we were both Republicans. And then I served with him for 10 years in the House of Representatives. He was, of course, a Democrat, I was a Republican in the House. I like him a lot. He is one of my favorite Democrats, if I can put it in those terms.That may be the kiss of death for Leon, but I am very fond of him. He is a very talented guy. [Fox News, 1/12/09]
CIA’s Paul Gimigliano walked back Panetta’s comments:
The Director was simply expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama’s security policies have made our country less safe. That’s all there is to it. Everyone understands that al-Qaeda and its allies are a dangerous and determined enemy.